WASHINGTON — In the face of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a growing number of states are offering their employees four-day workweeks to help relieve commuting costs and save on state energy bills.
In the boldest step so far, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R) announced June 26 that he is imposing a four-day workweek on about 17,000 state employees starting the first week of August and continuing for at least a year. Employees will work 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and about 1,000 of the 3,000 state buildings will be closed on Fridays. Essential services, such as highway patrols, courts, public schools and colleges, will not be affected by the changes, which are expected to save the state $3 million, said Lisa Roskelley, the governor’s spokeswoman.
While Utah is the first to make four-day workweeks mandatory, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) announced two weeks ago that her office was considering work-schedule alternatives to help commuters save fuel. And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has ordered each state agency to adopt a policy for telecommuting and alternate work schedules by Sept. 1.